Four picks to sizzle your speakers
By L. Kent Wolgamott
Photo: La Sera // Hour of the Dawn // Hardly Art
La Sera // Hour of the Dawn // Hardly Art
Former Vivian Girl Katy Goodman turns up the noise on Hour of The Dawn, the third album from her project, La Sera. In doing so, she combines girl-group, punk and new wave into hooky garage pop, singing of a night of doing drugs and running off on the driving opener “Losing to the Dark,” then catching the ear with the melodic “Summer of Love” before rattling around on “Running Wild.” That’s the beginning of a 10-song disc that mixes sweetness and edge – and lots of guitar from producer Tod Wisenbaker – to create a classic summer album.
File next to: Spectrals, No Joy
– L. Kent Wolgamott
Jack White // Lazaretto // Third Man/Columbia Records
With Lazaretto, Jack White continues to deliver elaborately crafted songs that hit and twist the American music styles he has explored ever more creatively since his days in the White Stripes. There’s heavy riffing blues-drenched rock on “Three Women” and a buzzing, crackling, wailing guitar instrumental “High Ball Stepper,” a taut swagger on “That Black Bat Licorice” and a spacious swirling surge on “I Think I Found The Culprit” with its chanted chorus “birds of a feather may lay together/but the uglier one is always under the gun.” Country comes in with Lillie Mae Roche’s fiddle on “Temporary Ground” and her vocals supply the female counterplay that’s long been part of White’s sound. The title cut adds a new element to the mix, with a buzzing guitar riff and snare-heavy drums underpinning White’s vocals, which are pure hip-hop. White rightfully cautions against reading the songs autobiographically – “Three Women,” for example, is an update of Blind Willie McTell’s “Three Women Blues,” not a tale lifted from his life. But it’s hard not to see elements of his life in the lyrics, especially his split with ex-wife Karen Elson on songs like “Alone in My Room” and the dramatic, stately “Would You Fight for My Love?” on which he talks of becoming a ghost. The 39 minutes of Lazaretto aren’t as immediately bracing as Blunderbuss, White’s 2012 solo debut, but the album opens up on repeat listens, revealing White continuing to make changes in his sound and technique. For example, he recorded this one over months, rather than a few days, bringing in members of his 2013 touring bands, one male and one female, to record with him. The intricate production reflects that crafting, as White is making raw, inventive American music like no one else.
File next to: Holly Golightly, The Black Keys
- L. Kent Wolgamott
Thee Oh Sees // Drop // Castle Face Records
Thee Oh Sees are back with Drop, a nine-song blast of fuzzy garage rock that’s all about grooves and guitar noise. Primarily played by the prolific John Dwyer, Drop features a few outside contributors – most notably Mikal Cronin on sax and Greer McGettrick of The Mallard on backing vocals. But it’s mostly a Dwyer guitar-fest – sludgy and layered here, snaking and shaking there. The songs with titles like “Penetrating Eye” and “Transparent World” are psychedelic with variety in the swirl, whether it’s from the strings of “The King’s Noise,” the punchy sax in the midst of the semi-acoustic “Put Some Reverb on My Brother” or the guitar-raving title cut. There’s even a shade of The Beatles on “The Lens,” the song that brings this set of neo-Nuggets to its conclusion.
File next to: Ty Segall Band, the Raveonettes
– L. Kent Wolgamott
Damon Albarn // Everyday Robots // Parlophone
Everyday Robots, the first solo album from Damon Albarn, is a grey, moody affair dominated by two themes. The first comes through on the first line of the record and title cut, “We’re everyday robots on our phones/In the process of getting home.” That lament of our ever-growing technological isolation continues on “Lonely Push Play,” the warning about “Photographs (You Are Taking Now)” and the haunting “The Selfish Giant.” The other theme is autobiographical, as Albarn uses the album to look back at his life and 25-year career, beginning with his youth and his early days with Blur on “Hollow Pond” through his heroin addiction, singing of “Tin foil and a lighter, the ship across/Five days on, two days off” in “You & Me,” to meeting “Mr. Tembo,” a Tanzanian baby elephant. The latter came on one of Albarn’s excursions to Africa for his recent world music projects, and its bouncy ukulele-rooted sound make for the liveliest track on a subdued, smartly crafted collection that has a few hints of Gorillaz glitchiness and some ear grabbing samples, but no Britpop anywhere. But Everyday Robots doesn’t want to be a party record. Rather, it’s cautionary, contemplative and revealing.
File next to: Johnny Marr, The Good, Bad & the Queen
– L. Kent Wolgamott
Reach DCP freelance writer L. Kent Wolgamott at LKentWolgamott@DaytonCityPaper.com.